Servant Mage

Tor.com. Jan. 2022. 176p. ISBN 9781250769053. $19.99. FANTASY
This richly conceived novella from the author of Unconquerable Sun, an LJ starred title, begins when Fellian, an enslaved fire mage, is kidnapped, or rescued, depending on the perspective, from her government’s enforced servitude by a group of rebels. They want her to help them protect the life of a newborn baby who has the potential to overthrow their oppressors and save the kingdom. The opening sounds like many fantasies about chosen ones saving the day, but as readers see this world through Fellian’s eyes the story becomes an exploration of power and privilege and the way that the high and mighty on both sides ignore how the costs of their squabbles and rebellions fall on the masses. Fellian, the daughter of farmers who rebelled against both sides, is willing to save the baby but refuses to be swept away by cause or rhetoric, to the surprise of the nobles who believe they’re saving her when she’s really saving them.
VERDICT The depth of the character creation and worldbuilding makes this story seem almost too big to be contained in a novella. Recommended for readers looking for stories that center on characters that get things done and know the worth of doing so.
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